sweet freedom!

I finished my seemingly endless internship last Monday (really, for all intents and purposes, Friday, since I spent Monday getting my performance evaluated- eeeurgh- then going around giving everyone cards, cookies and hugs). As a result I have been soaking up the goodness! A sampling:

Friday

First I had a hot date with my friend’s five-year-old son. She’s out of town (busy GETTING ENGAGED IN PARIS TO A PERFECT FRENCH MAN!) and her mom has been a little overwhelmed by the energetic grandbaby. So I absconded with Cohen and we went swimming and played with play dough and had a blast.

Once done with that, party in my friend’s backyard! Twinkly lights and cucumber/gin/basil cocktails. Yes please!

Saturday

I woke up with a sore throat so I flaked out on going to the swimming hole… but I did join everyone after for ice cream! Maple View Farm is more beautiful every day, I swear. I tried my best to capture some of the splendor via panorama.

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Sunday

Bruuuuunch! Brunch is the best meal. Went to Jessees and got the Kind Avocado, this gorgeous sandwich with ‘cado and cheese and arugula and vinaigrette, mmm. Talked about life with my cousin Sophia.

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Monday

First I drove to Lumberton, North Carolina for literally no reason. I’d offered to keep Colton company on his trip there, which he made because (he thought) he’d left behind his shoes in the temporary summer housing he’d had for his internship. We arrived in Lumberton (which, as places go, is reallllll depressing- we went by a number of dingy strip clubs in the Fort Bragg area on our way) and there were no shoes. Colton found them at home three days later. Lunatic.

Anyway, it was still fun going on a little road trip with Colton. He’s newly in love and in that disgustingly happy phase. Also, Colton loves to gossip almost as much as I do.

After returning from the boonies, in the evening I joined some friends for South Africa Movie Night! Sam did the Peace Corps in South Africa and wants to share her love for that country with all her friends. Carolina, one of the few people in our program who has a proper TV, offered to host. She also served us a delicious dinner. Here’s Sam being adorable:

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The meal involved fried chicken, Argentinian style (it reminded me a lot of picatta- I could see an Italian influence), asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes, and rolls.

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We watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and it was really good. It made me want to learn more about my South African heritage. I know my grandfather left around the time apartheid was instituted, but there’s so much more I want to understand about my own family’s history and also about the history of the nation. SO I polled my family members who still live in South Africa and asked them for book recommendations, which they gave me in spades. My goal is to spend some of the next few weeks brushing up on history. Yay learning!

Tuesday

I worked out! Guys, I’ve been a huge bum this summer regarding exercise. It depresses me to think about it, so I’m not talking about it anymore.

Then we had a movie night, because I learned on the road trip with Colton that he had never seen Almost Famous. The movie came up because the second I finished with my job I felt a strong compulsion to dance around my house while playing Tiny Dancer loudly.

So we went to Zach and Jaclyns and watched and discussed the movie.

Then we discussed my sociopath fellow intern and all my feelings of guilt and shame for not being able to have a functioning working relationship with her. (She literally did not speak to me, except to respond to direct questions, for the final two weeks of our internship. It was just a LITTLE emotionally draining).

Wednesday

I did a little token work (since my new biochem professor was kind enough to send us SEVEN PAGES of material we were expected to have memorized before the first day of class ISN’T THAT NICE) but the highlight of the day was definitely the evening…

COOKING CLASS!

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My amazing aunt and uncle Kathy and Tom got me a Sur La Table gift card for Christmas. Er, on Christmas. Seven months ago. Between this and that, I just got around to using it, but it ended up being fortuitous: Sur La Table is having 50% (or more!) off their classes right now- I urge you to check it out! Because of that, I was able to use their gift to treat me and a friend to the class, and still have a little left over for a few trinkets.

The class was SO FUN! There was one chef who led the activities and three assistants whose job was basically to make it the most pleasant experiences ever. At one point I turned to Carolina and said, “This is all of the fun stuff about cooking and none of the not fun stuff!” We had high quality, state-of-the art kitchen tools and appliances (like the microplane and the nifty garlic peeler pictured below)…

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We also had a team of assistants prepping and cleaning up after us! Any time things got slightly messy they quickly and gracefully swooped in and wiped down our cutting board; tossed our peelings; got rid of our empty prep bowls; and generally were the most inconspicuous magical elves ever. Whatever they get paid, it’s not enough.

The first thing we prepared was the appetizer: we spread homemade pesto (toasted pine nuts, mint, parsley, basil, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil) and fresh ricotta on olive oil’d, salted, peppered, and toasted ciabatta.

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I mean come on. This was so delicious. Plus beautiful.

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The next thing was a riff on Caprese salad. First fancy chef man peeled and cut very thin slices of cantaloupe. Then he pickled them (!) in sherry vinegar and kosher salt.

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We were in charge of the remaining ingredients. Sliced up some heirloom tomatoes…

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Then combined them with basil and BURRATA! Oh burrata. So creamy and heavenly.

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To gild the lily a little more, there was also olive oil.

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And the remainder of the meal consisted of yet another salad. It was a variation on Salade Nicoise (which the chef called Nick-oh-ease, which I think I can safely say is not the French pronunciation, hahaha). Started assembling the greens, tomatoes, cucs, olives, and hard boiled eggs

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Then Carolina prettily arranged the green beans

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Then lovely waxy potatoes

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And then in lieu of the traditional tuna we grilled some salmon to go on top.

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Such a delicious meal!

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Relatively healthy, too, though you haven’t seen dessert yet…

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So yes, for dessert, there were epic brownies. Start by extremely liberally buttering a pan (with fancy Kerrygold butter!)

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Then continue with tons of chocolate (3 kinds! Unsweetened, bittersweet and semisweet)

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Melt the chocolate with more butter (I wish I could somehow transmit this smell to you through the screen)

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Whisk together the melted chocolate with beaten eggs and sugar, then add a tiny bit of flour (Mom, when my friend was whisking I gently stepped in and said, “Make it go clack clack!” like the crazy French chef taught you!)

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Yeah sure let’s go ahead and throw in some vanilla bean paste. Whoooooooa. The chef gave us little spoonfuls of this to taste and it was like getting punched in the mouth with vanilla bean. And vodka. If it’s not clear, it was a pleasurable sensation, hahaha.

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Then the smell somehow got even better. Again, I wish I could convey the incredible-ness of this smell.

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Stop it, these were so good. Freaking crack brownies. I don’t really know how anything tastes this good. Plus, I am not usually an edges-of-the-pan person (not to belittle them, I know it’s a thing) but I made an exception for these because wowwww the slightly crispy edges were something special.  IMG_2881

This is quite the savvy business deal for Sur La Table- they give you a ten minute break and a 10% off gift card to use in the class. Carolina and I ended up doing a little shopping after class- she got a nifty garlic peeler, I got an instant-read digital meat thermometer (which I’ve been wanting FOREVER!) and a nifty cutting board scraper (which I plan to also use to make pastry).

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Thursday

Borrowed my friend’s one and half year old kid and romped around the botanical gardens and the farmer’s market. It was the best! For “butterfly”, she says, “BUH BUH BUH BUH BUH BUH” Baby and her daddy and I then hit up the farmer’s market and had some of our goods for dinner (while her poor mama worked late). Baby loved the cherry tomatoes. Her dad informed me that baby refused to eat grocery store tomatoes but loved the ones from the farmer’s market. Classy baby 🙂

Then I binge watched some Outlander with my roomie. It had been too long.

Friday

Got coffee with my ment-ee. Yes, in a crazy turn of events, since I am now a second year, I am in a position where have (or at least I am at assumed to have) gained enough wisdom to mentor a first year. My ment-ee is from Ecuador and totally adorable.

Then I cleaned my house to prepare for girls’ night with Myra. Decided I hated my room. Bought a desk… it’s still in my car. Had a girls’ night with Myra! Cooked a feast that included that cantaloupe-tomato salad (mmmm). Then we watched Atonement, sigh. The daschund was being her usual incredibly poorly behaved self, so we ended up going back to Myra’s and having a slumber party! Like the ones of childhood, except better, because R rated movies and red wine.

Saturday

After waking up and taking a romantic walk to the farmer’s market with Myra (ha!) I wrote most of this blog post. Then I went to an afternoon cookout with my friends and their bambino, where I spent a lot of the time marveling at how big the little one is getting!

Something that really struck me  is how lucky I am to’ve made the friends I have in this town. I’ve had some moments of, “Agh, will I ever hang out with anyone again?!” first when Steve and I split up and then when my dear Andrea moved off to NYC. I’m feeling really blessed that I have a few different networks (school friends, work friends, neighbors, etc.). I also have some really old friends- I’ve known Andrea since 9th grade and I’ve known Dan, who I hung out with this afternoon, since seventh grade (!) At the time, he was my friend’s cool and crushworthy big brother, actually. Now I hang out with him and his wife and kid in another state. Crazy how these things go.

Then I went with Myra and Alex and saw the totally ridiculous Pitch Perfect 2 outdoors.

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It didn’t come close to approaching the majesty of the first movie, but so what, right? Movies are inherently funner outdoors.

Sunday

I played in the river again (swimming at the secret spot with the rope swing is quickly becoming my favorite summer activitiy) with some buddies from my old office and their ADORABLE doglet Ella. I captured her on film while we enjoyed post-swim ice cream (every single time I’ve been to the swimming hole so far I have gone with my companions for ice cream after. Yes I’m very proud of this).

Ella photoshoot. She is so cute and smiley and cuddly!

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Also she is a big awkward nerd, so I relate to her quite a bit.

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